The show opens in London in 2013, when the UK Ministry of Defence released its last UFO files, including an alleged photo of a UFO over Stonehenge. This leads to a discussion of UFO sightings in the area of Wiltshire County, where Stonehenge stands, as well as crop circles in the area. As nearly everyone reading this realizes after a decade of this show, there remains no evidence for alien involvement in crop circles. Human hoaxers are to blame.
After this, the show discusses Caesar’s encounter with the Celts during his failed invasion of Britain. The talking heads express wonder that the Celtic Druids adopted Stonehenge “as their own” even though they didn’t build it. They can’t fathom why, nor why the Romans couldn’t solve the puzzle either. Apparently they aren’t aware that the Parthenon and Pantheon both served as Christian churches after the Classical period, and the Hagia Sophia became a mosque.
A further discussion goes into the same well of asking how primitive people could have moved heavy stones. They could and did. The Romans moved heavy blocks, and so did the Victorians before the advent of modern heavy equipment. The narrator can’t understand why ancient people would waste their time building a mere temple of such size and weight if it wasn’t a magic alien mystery box. Again, the show seems not to have seen the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages, which similarly took centuries to complete, for no practical purpose beyond the needs of the faith they served.
The second segment goes back in time to trace the history of claims of astronomical alignments at Stonehenge from 1720 onward. Giorgio Tsoukalos claims that Stonehenge is a scale model of the solar system, including the dwarf planet Pluto, but this cannot be true because the planets do not have circular orbits, so the “rings” of Stonehenge cannot be planet orbits in a literal sense. The show provides no math to demonstrate that the ratio of the rings is equal to the ratio of the planetary orbits.
The show repeats claims from earlier episodes about astronomical alignments at other ancient sites, including Göbekli Tepe. Alignments, though, aren’t the impossible wonders the talking heads think they are. All you need to do Is to have you and your friends stand at the site where you want to build on the days you want to commemorate, and the mark the spots with stakes or rocks and then build around the markers. There is no reason to imagine high technology when simple techniques will do.
In the commercial break, the History Channel promoted a new show to air after Curse of Oak Island in which young men subject themselves to animal bites and stings so the audience can laugh at their pain. There is a lesson in there somewhere. Apparently the target audience for the History Channel isn’t just the ignorant but also the cruel. It is programming for our time.
The third segment just repeats material from Ancient Aliens’ dedicated episode about Göbekli Tepe, and the narrator purposely lies about “experts” claiming that a “highly advanced civilization” had to be responsible for the ancient temple site. The show claims that this civilization are the Watchers from the Book of Enoch, whom William Henry misidentifies as the Anunnaki. The Book of Enoch does not use the Mesopotamian word, nor does the name Anunnaki apply to the Nephilim giants or their angelic parents. It’s always the Watchers and Nephilim in the end, though. For reasons I’ve outlined over the past five years of blog posts, the Watchers/Nephilim myth underlies nearly every fringe history claim about ancient history in some way, largely due to a handful of fateful but largely accidental choices that a handful of Late Antique and early medieval authors made.
The show discusses Merlin transporting Stonehenge, which the giants had built. David Childress says it “may well have been the case” that the Nephilim built Stonehenge after the Flood. (The spell the medieval author of this tale as Jeffrey instead of the standard Geoffrey of Monmouth, which is weird since he lived before the letter J was invented.) Then they try to relate this to the Christianized legends of the Tuatha De Danaan of Irish myth, who originally were gods but had been euhemerized over time. I can’t, though, fathom why the show seems to use a picture of a Holy Roman Emperor to illustrate this. The show keeps trying to hammer home Zecharia Sitchin’s idea that all of the gods and giants are “Anunnaki,” but the Anunnaki of Mesopotamian myth were not the Nephilim of the Bible nor the Watchers (though there was some vague overlap in terms of the Jews reacting against Mesopotamian stories), but was the collective name for gods of fate. In many surviving texts, they are not sky gods but underworld deities. (This is not consistent across Mesopotamian literature, and their role changed from culture to culture.) It doesn’t really matter, of course, because the show can’t make a coherent argument for longer than a minute before flitting off to some other idea, lest we think about any one thing too hard.
A 2018 Harvard study found that genetic traces of the builders of Stonehenge disappeared after the Stonehenge period. Normal people would see this as evidence that migrants to the area replaced the population, through expulsion or extinction, but Ancient Aliens disagrees. Childress expresses amazement that the “newcomers” didn’t just let the old monuments rot, but there seems to be no purpose to the restatement of this claim from an earlier segment. It’s out of place with the rest of the segment, which features Andrew Collins and Graham Phillips visiting the Orkneys to spin conspiracy theories about the people who built Stonehenge and why they disappeared. We hear tell that various stone circles must be “connected” to Göbekli Tepe because they are all aligned to the same prominent stars. OK, but they are all looking up at the same night sky, so it’s not really a stretch to imagine that people around the world would all see the brightest stars. Giorgio Tsoukalos repeats the theme Childress originated and asked why anyone would bother building in stone when “sticks” could achieve the same result. I suppose he ought to ask himself why he lives in a house when a tent would achieve the same result of keeping rain out of his tower of hair. Andrew Collins claims that Stonehenge was built by the descendants of the builders of Göbekli Tepe, largely because he thinks the common shape of a circle is a mystical truth unfathomed except by the elect.
The fifth segment continues on from the previous one, with Collins and Phillips visiting more stone circles and opining that these circles are “portals between this world and another.” Phillips and Collins says that the henges are “windows” into other dimensions where “mysterious lights” can be seen due to the power of these stones to access what the narrator calls “other parts of the universe.” The narrator concedes that it is “preposterous” to propose that the Stonehenge builders walked into Stonehenge and were transported to another planet, but he says that ancient astronaut theorists speculate about it anyway due to the piezoelectric power of quartz crystals under pressure. Not to spoil the “fun” but the small bluestones to which this power is attributed were not being “crushed” under the pressure of a megalithic structure. They were sitting individually in a ring just on their own, hanging out, no pressure. Childress says that the Nephilim could have used “high technology” to activate the quartz in order to create a portal, which I guess is meant to suggest that the pressure from the previous discussion wasn’t necessary. However, no one notices the contradiction between Collins and Phillips claiming that these henge sites still allow UFOs to arrive from other worlds and the narrator and Childress alleging that the sites’ portals are closed due to their destruction and/or loss of Nephilim technology. The latter view reigns because it solves a big problem: If the sites are active portals, why isn’t the cast of Ancient Aliens lining up to take a walk in the Pleiades? They supposedly found a door to an alien paradise and have absolutely no interest in going inside.
The final segment returns to long-debunked crop circles from the 1990s, and Nick Pope claims that the Stonehenge crop circle of 1996 was an actual communication from space aliens. Childress is blasé about claiming that “extraterrestrials are landing here,” as though it were of no more interest than the latest sale in the Wal-Mart chinos aisle. The narrator says that the aliens have preserved parts of Stonehenge so one day we can “reactivate it” to transport ourselves to their planet. You’d think that Childress, Tsoukalos, Henry, and Collins would be busy building one to prove their faith true for all time. Somehow, though, despite claiming to be able to determine alien technology from broken rocks, they have done nothing to “reactivate” portal technology.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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